While Kate Middleton has always had fabulous style, she certainly elevated her wardrobe with more polished and modest pieces once she married into royalty. As she added new pieces, she also had to toss some old ones that wouldn’t work with her new duchess style protocol. Kate’s style has evolved significantly over the years, but it’s always fun to look back at her pre-royal fashion to see just how much things have changed. Follow along for our roundup of everything Kate Middleton can’t wear now that she’s a royal:
Update: This article references Queen Elizabeth. Sadly, she passed on September 8, 2022 at the age of 96. She was the UK’s longest-serving monarch after reigning for 70 years.
20. Tote Bags
It’s common royal protocol for women to wear a small clutch when making public appearances. This allows them to have something in their hands to hold in the event that they don’t wish to shake someone’s hand and don’t want to appear rude. Due to this, Kate likely had to retire many of her go-to tote bags once she became a duchess in exchange for more sleek and compact clutches.
19. Western Belts
Before becoming a royal, Kate loved to add a chunky Western-style belt to many of her outfits. This was definitely a fashion style she had to put to rest once becoming a royal since it comes across as quite casual.
18. Short Shorts
During her separation from Will in 2008, Kate definitely got much more liberal with her fashion choices without the looming rules of the royal family. She stepped out to attend a charity disco event wearing an emerald sequin top and yellow short shorts that no one could forget. She certainly was not caught wearing anything like this when she rekindled her relationship with the prince!
While a hoodie is obviously a practical clothing option for an early morning rowing session, it may not be the best choice for a duchess. Something as casual as this striped hoodie would not be something we’d see Kate wear since marrying into royalty.
16. Baseball Hats
Kate was forced to swap baseball caps for fancy fascinators when she married Prince William; however, she’s broken the rules a few times when the occasion calls for it. Here she is photographed wearing a baseball cap while operating a boat in New Zealand in April 2014.
15. Low Necklines
It’s key to dress modestly as a royal woman, which is why it’s no surprise that Kate had to stop wearing some of her more low cut necklines once she became a duchess. A dress like this, despite not even being that low cut, would likely not fly with the Queen nowadays.
14. Messy Chignons
As a royal, you must follow a specific protocol when it comes to your hair as well. Often we see royal women with glossy blowouts or polished updos, which means we certainly wouldn’t see Kate Middleton step out with her hair styled in a messy chignon as she favored in her college days.
13. Low Rise Jeans
During Kate’s early days when she was just Prince William’s girlfriend, one of her biggest fashion faux pas was wearing low rise jeans. While this was definitely in style back then, we know we wouldn’t see her wearing anything like this now. In recent years, Kate has opted for modest mid-rise skinny jeans, which have become part of her signature look.
12. Shoulder Bags
Shoulder bags were a huge trend in the ’90s and early 2000s and have actually made a huge comeback in recent years! We can’t imagine that Kate will jump on board with this trend, however, due to the fact that royal women are encouraged to use clutches and small handbags when making appearances.
11. Spaghetti Straps
One of Kate’s most controversial looks from her early days as Prince William’s girlfriend was this tank top and low rise jeans look she wore in 2005. The look was undeniably one of her least polished and most revealing, especially with the spaghetti strap tank top. There’s no doubt that this tank was the first thing to go once she became a duchess!
10. Sheer Dresses
Another one of Kate’s unforgettable scandalous style moments is when she walked a runway wearing this sheer dress during her St. Andrew’s days. I’m sure she didn’t understand the repercussions that would be caused by wearing this dress at the time and that it would live on to haunt her all these years later!
9. Halter Dresses
While halter dresses are definitely a go-to for many women during the warm summer months, we can’t say that’s the case for Kate Middleton now that she’s a duchess! We love how flattering this floral halter dress looks on her; however, given how revealing it is on her back, she likely had to put this look and similar halter styles to rest once she became royalty.
8. Mini Skirts
The Queen has enforced that royal women must wear modest necklines and hemlines for decades, which is why Kate had to retire her collection of mini skirts once becoming a duchess. A frilly outfit like this green chiffon minidress with thin straps likely wouldn’t fly today.
7. Overgrown Bangs
Aside from fashion, it’s also crucial as a royal woman to always look perfectly groomed and manicured. Kate is known nowadays for her glossy blowout that perfectly frames her face, but this wasn’t always the case! She went through a tousled bangs phase in her early 20s that likely wouldn’t get the royal stamp of approval today.
6. Plastic Jewelry
One of Kate’s most questionable jewelry choices was this teal plastic heart necklace she wore in 2005. This entire look is definitely far from the type of outfit we’d see her wear today! She retired plastic hearts for diamonds and sapphires.
5. Untailored Clothing
As Kate grew into her role as a duchess, she also grew with her knowledge of fashion. One of the number one rules of style is to ensure all your clothes are properly tailored to your body! This wasn’t something that Kate put into practice during her dating years with Will, which is clear by these untailored jeans that pooled around her ankles.
The Queen has openly shared her distaste towards wedge heels in the past, which is why this is technically a style of shoe that Kate shouldn’t wear now that she’s a duchess! That’s not to say, however, that she hasn’t broken this rule every once in a while. We totally understand why though given how comfortable wedges must be in comparison to her typical stiletto heels.
3. Slouchy Boots
Another go-to style of Kate’s before her royal makeover was slouchy boots and Uggs! These were a huge trend at the time, so it makes sense that Kate had a few pairs of these in her wardrobe. She certainly had to switch out the slouchy boots for polished stilettos once she became Prince William’s wife, though!
2. Wide Brim Hats
This overall look of Kate Middleton’s was quite confusing, but especially this Western-style wide brim hat that she wore. Not only did it hide her beautiful face, but it also seemed to totally detract from the outfit since it’s so bold and distracting.
1. Tight Leggings
Prior to her engagement to Prince William, Kate Middleton took part in a rowing team where she wore athletic wear. She eventually had to quit the team, which also meant giving up her tiny tank tops and the tight leggings she used to wear to practice!